My Take: Lemon Ricotta Cookies

Lemon ricotta cookies

A while back I wrote about how I’ve been trying to extend my personal cookie season beyond the winter holidays. My initial experiments with easy chocolate chip cookies were enough of a success that I’ve been motivated to keep baking. This is however not necessarily great for my waistline. The solution to that niggling problem is to simply package the cookies up – after sampling two or three (or four or five) – and whisk them away to our various office kitchens. This makes me popular in two workplaces in downtown Austin which is a nice bonus.

I’m a big believer in recipe serendipity. Sometimes just when I need a recipe for a party or even, have a hankering for a particular dish, or simply need to use up ingredients I have on hand, a recipe will appear as if by magic in my RSS reader, my in box, in a Tweet, or in my Facebook stream. It’s as if the recipe knows I need it and finds its way too me.

Okay, so I’ve been watching a bit of Harry Potter this long holiday weekend and it’s impacting my perspective. What of it?

The recipe for Lemon Ricotta Cookies came to me via a Facebook post from the Food Network about an hour or so after I’d looked in my fridge and realized I had a carton of ricotta cheese I really needed to use. Given that the temperatures here in Austin are heating up faster than a flame under a Texas BBQ, a light citrus cookie seemed just perfect for our warm weather.

See, I told you it was fate. Or magic. Or maybe coincidence but how boring would that be?

Beyond ricotta, this recipe uses ingredients you’ll most likely have on hand, and it’s crazy easy too. I got a wild hair to make the cookies and they were done and cooling on my kitchen counter a little over an hour later. I’m definitely filing this recipe away as great for entertaining because they:

  • Pack a great flavor punch in a small bite.
  • Are simple
  • Can be made a couple of days in advance.
  • Are pretty without having to do hard work (or have artistic skill) to make them so.
  • Are just a little bit unexpected. They may look a little plain Jane, but they are far from it when you take a bite.

These cookies are more like madelines or little tea cakes than crisp cookies, which is great as far as I’m concerned because they add some variety to a cookie plate and would great with afternoon tea or for a bridal or baby show. They have a lovely light crumb and balance sweet and sour nicely, especially if you kick up the sour just a bit (see the modifications section). Here’s the rundown on my experience with the recipe:

  • Cooking time:
    Plan about an hour to an hour and a half total hands-on time to prep the dough, bake the different batches of cookies, let them cool, and glaze them before you leave them to set.
    • Prep time
      • Stated in the recipe: 15 minutes
      • My experience: 30 minutes (probably because I used a smaller scoop and added a step to chill the dough)
    • Inactive time
      • Stated in the recipe: 2 hours, 20 min
      • My experience: 2 hours, 20 min
    • Cook time
      • Stated in the recipe: 15 minutes
      • My experience: 12-13 minutes (because I had smaller cookies)
    • Finish time
      • Stated in the recipe: none
      • My experience: 20 minutes (to make the glaze and apply it)
    • Total time
      • Stated in the recipe: 2 hours, 50 minutes
      • My experience: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • My modifications
    • After reading the comments on the recipe I made three changes:
      • I used a 1 Tbsp. scoop to make smaller cookies. They were the perfect size for a light, 2-bite cookie. Because of the smaller cookie size, I ended up with 8 dozen cookies instead of the 44 the recipe says it yields, making this a perfect recipe for when you need a lot of cookies quickly.
      • I added a Tbsp. of lemon juice to both the cookie dough and the glaze, for a total of 4 Tbsp. in each. This made the glaze thinner than what’s shown in the recipe and I was okay with that. I didn’t end up with a super-thick glaze coating on top of the cookies, but rather a thin seal that permeated the top of each cookie.
      • I zested three lemons total and split the zest between the dough and the glaze to amp up the lemon flavor. Both the dough and the glaze ended up with the zest of about 1 and a half medium lemons.
    • Instead of spooning the glaze onto the cookies, I simply dipped the top of each cookie into the glaze and put it back on the rack to dry. This approach was faster and wasted less glaze.
  • Tips and tricks
    • After reading through the comments I noticed a common theme: the cookies spread a lot and were too thin. This makes sense because the ricotta is soft to begin with as is the butter, so there’s not a lot in the cookies to keep them from spreading. To combat the spread, I placed each sheet of cookies in the freezer for about 10 minutes so they could firm up. This helped prevent spreading and didn’t impact the texture at all.
    • For nicely rounded cookies, use a scoop instead of two spoons to dish out the dough. Be sure to scrape the filled scoop against the mixing bowl post-scoop and pre-drop to create a nicely rounded mound of cookie dough that will cook evenly.
    • Some of the recipe comments said that the cookies turned mushy after a couple of days. I stored mine in the refrigerator just to be on the safe side, but did leave three out on the counter covered with wax paper to test over the space of three days. I didn’t have a hard time with the cookies turning soft(er) after even three days on the counter, but still, I’d recommend only making these 1-2 days in advance and storing them in an air-tight container in the fridge. Give them about an hour to come to room temperature before serving.
  • Possible variations
    • Maria from Two Peas and their Pod made an orange and chocolate version of these cookies that looks fantastic for the holiday season.
    • I also think they would be great with lime zest and juice in the place of the lemon and a little bit of toasted coconut sprinkled on top for a bit of a tropical taste.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *